“The wretched of the earth do not decide to become extinct, they resolve, on the contrary, to multiply: life is their only weapon against life, life is all that they have.”
James Baldwin, a twentieth-century American writer, was forced to make racism his business—he was part of a people segregated at birth by skin color. The sentence cited here notes a contradiction: experiencing misery and poverty produces new lives, whereas a life of comfort produces fewer.
In Napoli, ground-floor apartments—slum dwellings with just a single room—used to swarm with children. With no possibility of privacy, parents began new pregnancies in the middle of their families. Such was their force, their biological richness: since they lost many of their numbers to every form of scarcity, being numerous was essential.